Will arrest in old Michigan murder case clear the man doing life for the crime?

NBC News; December 4, 2013

The arrest of a Michigan man in a horrific 17-year-old rape-murder case has reopened old wounds for the victim’s family and cast fresh doubt on the guilt of the man who was convicted of the crime and sentenced to life in prison.

Michigan State Police on Tuesday arrested 35-year-old Jason Anthony Ryan, of Davison, Mich., and charged him with homicide. Legal sources tell NBC News the arrest occurred after a DNA test of semen found at the scene of the murder matched Ryan’s profile in a national database.

The rape and murder of Geraldine Montgomery, a 68-year-old widow, was the worst crime in memory in Kalkaska, Mich., a town of about 2,200 residents in the northern reaches of the state. In October 1996, someone broke into her home in the village, beat and raped her, then shoved her into the trunk of her running Buick sedan and left her to asphyxiate.

To read the complete article, please click here: http://investigations.nbcnews.com/_news/2013/12/04/21744715-will-arrest-in-old-michigan-murder-case-clear-the-man-doing-life-for-the-crime?lite


An Innocent Man: How Inmate Michael Morton Lost 25 Years of His Life

CNN; December 4, 2013

Imagine being out to dinner with the love of your life and your beautiful, smiling, 3-year-old child. It’s a double celebration: your birthday and the end of your young boy’s difficult recovery from surgery for a heart defect.

As you cross the street afterward, holding hands and swinging the little one up in the air, you think, “This is what it’s about.”

You know it’s one of the best days of your life.

For Michael Morton, that day was August 12, 1986. He had just turned 32.

The next day, it was all taken away. The dream became a nightmare.

Christine, his wife, was attacked and killed at their home in Williamson County, Texas, just outside Austin. Michael Morton was at work at the time. Still, authorities suspected him.

To read the complete article, please click here: http://www.cnn.com/2013/12/04/justice/exonerated-prisoner-update-michael-morton/index.html?hpt=hp_t1

Ryan Ferguson: ‘I need to build my life back’

CBS News; November 13, 2013

Ryan Ferguson said on “CBS This Morning” that he needs to “build my life back” after spending nearly 10 years behind bars for a murder he says he didn’t commit.

Ferguson was released from custody Tuesday night. His release came after Missouri Attorney General Chris Koster announced Tuesday that his office will not retry Ferguson, 29.

In an interview with his father, Bill Ferguson, Ryan Ferguson said on “CTM” that his emotions haven’t caught up with him since his release. “It’s amazing,” he said. “You know, it’s quite early in the morning. I haven’t really had the opportunity to experience the day yet, but I know as it unfolds there will be new adventures, and it will be incredible, so definitely looking forward to getting into the day.”

Missouri Attorney General: We won’t retry Ryan Ferguson

Last week, an appeals court threw out Ferguson’s 2005 conviction in the killing of Columbia Daily Tribune sports editor Kent Heitholt. The appeals court ruled that Boone County prosecutors violated federal law by failing to share several pieces of evidence with Ferguson’s defense team during his trial.

To read the complete article and watch the video, please click here: http://www.cbsnews.com/8301-505263_162-57612093/ryan-ferguson-i-need-to-build-my-life-back/

Lawsuit alleges Mobile Infirmary ‘dumped’ man out in the cold to die

Lagniappe; October 30, 2013

On March 18, 2013, LeJuan Johnson died. The 24-year-old had HIV, but a lawsuit filed on behalf of his estate blames Mobile Infirmary, the city of Mobile, two security guards and five unnamed witnesses for the cause of his death. There is also allegedly video evidence, according to the court documents filed by Andy Citrin, the attorney for the estate .

The lawsuit, which was filed Oct. 24 in Mobile County Circuit Court, claims security guards Jerry Ripple and Shawn Poff “dumped” Johnson onto a sidewalk near Mobile Infirmary’s ER and left him there to die. Ripple is also a sergeant at the Mobile Police Department, which is why the city is also named in the suit.

On March 5, Johnson was brought to the ER by ambulance after suffering from “extreme weakness, altered mental status and nausea.”

The lawsuit claims Johnson was so weak that he could not take a single step on his own. However, the patient never received the treatment he sought, according to the lawsuit.

To read the complete article, please click here: http://lagniappemobile.com/lawsuit-alleges-mobile-infirmary-dumped-man-out-in-the-cold-to-die/

A Florida Tragedy Illustrates Rising Concern About Cyber-Bullying Suicides

Time; October 17, 2013

On Monday, two Florida girls – one 12, the other 14 – were arrested on aggravated stalking charges after the death of 12-year-old Rebecca Sedwick, who committed suicide last month.

Authorities say the two girls repeatedly cyberbullied the Lakeland, Fla., girl. One of them even wrote on Facebook: “I bullied Rebecca nd (sic) she killed herself.”

Such incidents are rare, but they’re the kind of episodes many prevention experts are increasingly worried about.

Mom of Missouri teen raped, dumped on family’s porch: Justice was denied

Detroit Free Press; October 17, 2013

MARYVILLE, MO. — A prosecutor in Missouri who’s faced intense criticism over his handling of a case involving a 14-year-old girl who says she was raped by a 17-year-old acquaintance says he wants a special prosecutor to decide if new charges should be filed.

Nodaway County prosecutor Robert Rice announced Wednesday that he’s asking a judge to appoint a special prosecutor in the case.

Melinda Coleman, the mother of 14-year-old Daisy Coleman, claims justice was denied when Rice dropped felony charges in March 2012, two months after she says her daughter was plied with alcohol, raped, then dumped on the family’s front porch in sub-freezing temperatures.

To read the complete article, please click here: http://www.freep.com/article/20131017/NEWS07/310170097/Missouri-teen-sex-assault-case

Video: Blind Man Beaten on Philadelphia Street as Witnesses Look on

CBS News; October 9, 2013

Philadelphia police have released surveillance footage  they say shows an unidentified man knock a blind man to the ground and then proceed to kick and stomp on him as he lay helpless on the side of the road.

The video appears to show at least three witnesses who did not attempt to intervene.

Authorities hope the release of the footage will help identify the suspect and lead to an arrest.

Police say the incident took place around noon on Oct. 2 on a street in northwest Philadelphia. The video shows the 33-year-old victim, who is blind, according to police, walking along the street when the suspect approaches him.

The camera pans away and in the next frame, the suspect is seen striking the victim, knocking him to the ground and then proceeding to kick and stomp on him as he lay on the ground. The suspect is then seen walking away.

Philly.com reports the victim was robbed in the process.

Police say the victim suffered injuries to his head and face.

The suspect is described as a black male in his mid 20s who was wearing a tan colored baseball cap, tan shirt, khaki colored pants and was carrying a dark colored back pack at the time of the assault.

If anyone has any information on the incident they are asked to call the Philadelphia Police Department at (215)-686-3353.


Parents consider legal action after South Dakota police use Taser on 8-year-old girl

NBC News; October 10, 2013

The parents of an 8-year-old South Dakota girl want the police officer who stunned their daughter with a Taser disciplined, but the police chief said Wednesday that the officer acted properly and may have saved the little girl’s life.

Pierre Police Chief Bob Grandpre told Dakota Radio Group News that the incident happened Friday night after a baby-sitter called to report that the girl had stabbed herself in the leg and was making comments about suicide.

The girl — whose identity hasn’t been released because she is a juvenile — was holding a 4½-inch knife and refused to put it down when the three officers arrived, he said.

Grandpre said the child had the tip of the knife to her chest and then moved toward a hallway that could have taken her out of the officers’ sight, posing a potential threat.

When one of the officers approached her, the girl pointed the knife at the officer and then back at herself, Grandpre said. That’s when the officer used the Taser, whose prongs lodged in her chest and stomach, Grandpre said.

To read the complete article, please click here: http://usnews.nbcnews.com/_news/2013/10/09/20888694-parents-consider-legal-action-after-south-dakota-police-use-taser-on-8-year-old-girl?lite


Hotel Desk Clerk Fired for Needing Oxygen Tank

Chicago Tribune; October 4, 2013

Donna Colvin loved her job as the overnight desk clerk at the Paddle Wheel Inn, especially the quiet hours spent tidying the lobby and laying out the morning’s continental breakfast while guests were still fast asleep.

Even when respiratory ailments briefly sidelined her two years ago, Colvin was determined to keep working at the charming inn, situated on the banks of the Rock River about 90 miles west of Chicago.

Heeding her doctor’s advice, Colvin informed the inn’s manager that she would have to be on oxygen while she worked. The next day, she learned by letter that she had been fired.

On Thursday, the 51-year-old filed a federal lawsuit alleging that the Paddle Wheel Inn violated the Americans with Disabilities Act by dismissing her without attempting to accommodate her need for a small oxygen tank.

To read the complete article, please click here: http://www.chicagotribune.com/news/local/ct-met-disabilities-lawsuit-20131004,0,2456004.story

Legal Advocates Want Overhaul of Public Defender System

NPR; October 3, 2013

Prominent members of the legal community are pressuring the Obama administration to do more to ensure that poor criminal defendants have access to a lawyer, a situation that Attorney General Eric Holder has already likened to a national crisis.

Calls to create a bipartisan White House commission began earlier this year, with the 50th anniversary of the landmark Supreme Court case Gideon v. Wainwright that first insured a public defender for persons accused of non-capital offenses. This week, advocates traveled to Washington to meet with Associate Attorney General Tony West to push the idea of the commission beyond the talking stage, NPR has learned.

Former Alabama Supreme Court Justice Sue Bell Cobb, former Vice President Walter Mondale, New York indigent legal services director William Leahy, and Equal Justice Initiative Director Bryan Stevenson wrote a letter to the Justice Department earlier this year expressing concern that many defendants charged with minor offenses were not getting legal counsel and that others were not being properly served by overworked and underpaid public defenders.

To read the complete article, please click here: http://www.npr.org/blogs/thetwo-way/2013/10/02/228572418/legal-advocates-want-overhaul-of-public-defender-system